Shady gun dealers real bad guys

Author: Sarah Overstreet

After yet another tragic mass shooting spree by a crazy man, people are in a lather again either to slap more controls on guns, outlaw them all or keep your paws off the gun in my cold, dead fingers.

Other than abortion, probably no subject lacks as much middle ground as gun control. Both sides are rabidly attached to their points of view. I believe in the right of honest citizens with clean background checks to legally buy guns, because I absolutely know that criminals will always have guns whether I, my elderly uncle or an innocent shopkeeper has them or not. The illegal firearms industry is wildly robust, whether the arms are made out of the country and smuggled in or sold by dishonest dealers who would sell them to orangutans if the orangutans could get their non-opposable thumbs on greenbacks.

The gun control I would like to see is more vigilance on firearms sales and shady firearms dealers.

Marketing professor Kevin Bradford conducted a study of the firearms market and says his study of the ways criminals get their guns shows that up to 40 percent of guns used in crime are supplied by 1 percent of the dealers. They know how guns are supposed to be sold, they know to whom they are selling, and these are bad guys. "But they (the dealers) are still able to buy guns ... ," he wrote in his study co-authored with others for the University of Notre Dame.

So how do these ne'er-do-wells continue to supply criminals?

- Lack of oversight on what gun dealers are doing.

There's not enough monitoring of which dealers are actually performing mandatory background checks on people to whom they sell, and too many unlicensed dealers selling out of car trunks and even some gun shows who operate under the radar. We don't pump enough law enforcement efforts into rooting out dishonest sellers in an industry which is as potent as drug trafficking and a lot more lethal. Illegal firearms sales are often found just as a by-product to the search for drugs, rather than stopped by any safeguards in place to detect them.

- Some firearms manufacturers have resisted any kinds of safeguards to gun sales. Smith & Wesson adopted safeguards to clamp down on getting guns into the hands of unscrupulous dealers in 2000, and some gun owners and dealers retaliated by not buying their products. Oh, well, there are plenty coming into the country from Tanzania and other foreign countries.

There are so many more tools we could be using to thwart shady gun sales and we don't. In an age where honest citizens have to lug along to an arm of government our tax receipts, vehicle inspections and proof of insurance just to register a car to a legally qualified and tested driver, this is inane.

Don't take my legally registered gun. If someone is breaking into my house to rob, rape and probably, later, kill me, I am not the bad guy. I have been robbed before, I have been stalked and my property has been cased, and I am not the bad guy.

I have a permit to carry my gun, and I have been trained how to handle and use it safely. If you want more restrictions on gun owners, up the requirements for those of who legally use them, just as we upped the ante on qualifications and testing on who may drive a car. Make it as illegal to have unsecured guns where children may be as it is to not tether them in child restraints in a vehicle.

I'm happy to take any test you want me to on gun operation, as opposed to the criminal trying to pry open my door, get through my window or ambush me outside my car in a dark parking lot. He or she definitely has no interest in quizzes, and they have no consciences to start with.

Don't take my uncle's legally registered gun. He is 85 years old and my aunt is 82. They are in poor health and vulnerable, and they have been robbed. The next person may assault or try to kill them. My uncle has used guns safely all his life, and would be just as happy to take a test on his gun knowledge as he would be to prove his worthiness to drive a car. He is not the bad guy. Don't take his ability to protect himself from people who will always have lethal weapons to use against him. Don't make him a sitting duck.

Do a better job of background checks, policing illegal gun sales and punishing the industry's lawbreakers. The old saying, "If guns are illegal, only criminals will have guns," isn't a cliche. Criminals will always have guns. Illegal gun manufacturing hide-outs will be as plentiful as moonshine stills and scumbags will smuggle, steal and make them out of soap if they have to.